Editor’s Note: This article contains SPOILERS! If you are not caught up on “Game of Thrones” or do not want to know what happens yet, stop reading here!

 

Last night, the second episode of the fourth season of the epic fantasy series, “Game of Thrones,” aired on HBO. Some fans of the show thought last week’s episode was too slow. It was clearly the first episode of a season, spending most of its time laying the groundwork for the material to come; for that reason, it did not move a long quite as briskly as the rest of the series. No such complaints could be made about this week’s installment — this was one exciting, well-paced, and gripping hour of television.

 

In it, we were treated to some of the characters missing in episode one. We caught up with Theon, now known as Reek, and loyally serving Ramsay Snow. There was one scene with Lord Bolton, now ruler of the North, in which Theon admits he never killed the two youngest Stark boys, and it was, in fact, two random boys that he killed and burned for Winterfell to see. This spells major trouble for Bolton, as he cannot rule the North if there are still Starks around for the people to unite behind. The only place they think to look is Castle Black, where the bastard son of Ned Stark — Jon Snow — is currently living. This development could lead to some sort of conflict between the Boltons and the Night’s Watch, which could be fantastic for us the viewers.

 

We also saw Bran, now across the wall and embracing his identity as a warg. Perhaps going even too far with his power, staying inside the mind of his wolf for hours at a time. He and his posse happen upon a Weirwood tree, the sort his father used to pray before. Bran touches the tree and experiences a vision. The montage sequence involved images from both the past and what is to come, including a dragon flying over King’s Landing, a snowy throne room, his own body falling out of the tower, snippets of the White Walkers, and the three eyed raven telling him to go north. There is no telling what this moment meant, but there is nothing of insignificance in this show, so be sure not to forget the details.

 

There were a few other characters who got some screen time, including Jamie, who attempts to improve his left-handed swordsmanship with Tyrion’s sell-sword Bronn. Shae also gained some significant screen time, tearfully and unwillingly leaving King’s Landing under Tyrion’s request — at least we are led to believe she does. Stannis even gets some attention, as he publicly executes a few infidels. What fans are really going to remember is the long awaited death of King Joffery Baratheon that we finally got in this episode.

 

When I saw that this episode was written by “Game of Thrones” book series writer, George RR Martin, I knew something big was going to go down. That is the type of episode he tends to write. When I saw that there was going to be a wedding, my suspicions were confirmed. Followers of the third season know that weddings in Westeros are not always joyous affairs.

 

The scene was long and drawn out. Expertly shot and constructed, this tension filled 15 minutes or so was the highlight of the episode. Throughout the affair, Joffery did nothing to earn the audience’s sympathies. He mocked Tyrion in front of everyone, and made a joke of the atrocities committed during the War of Five Kings. When he does finally drink from his cup, and the poison takes effect, it is one of the more satisfying moments in the history of television.

 

I understand that he was only a teenager, but Joffery’s death was simply wonderful to watch. There may not be a more deplorable character in fiction than him, and his painful death was well deserved.

 

Obviously, though, this creates complications for other characters of the show, particularly Tyrion. The episode ends with Cersei blaming it all on her poor, imp brother, and it is likely that he will be blamed. I am sure that plot line will be further developed in the coming episodes.

 

A few of the characters we saw last week were absent from this one. Most notably Arya, who looked to be the new star of the series in the final moments of episode one. I am sure she will show up again soon, but I missed seeing her dominate the screen as she did last time.

 

All in all, this was a great installment of a great program. Just seeing Joffery die was enough to leave me happy, the fact that the rest of it was also thoroughly entertaining was just icing on the cake.

 

Did you see this week’s episode? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below, or reach out  to me on Twitter @TuckerPoikonen